Hiking with children: a hut, a stick, an umbrella...
Were you a "happy wanderer" as a child and loved to "go a-wandering"? Do you now want to make hiking appeal to your kids, too, and share with them your passion for the mountains? We have collected a few tips for your next hike with your whole family.
Good planning is half the battle
The most important rule when you're planning your tour: Don't push your kids too hard or too far. After all, your time together on the mountain should be fun! Ambitious sporting and physical goals simply aren't appropriate when it comes to hiking with children. Here's a simple rule of thumb to keep at the back of your mind: The hiking distance shouldn't be any longer than 1.5 times the age of your child. In other words, a 6-year-old can handle around 9 kilometers, while a 100-meter vertical gain counts as 1 kilometer. The walking time should always be calculated based on the slowest person in your group. And as everyone knows, flexibility is the name of the game on all your excursions (of whatever kind) with children.
The exciting path to your destination
Whether a tasty snack at a mountain hut, a mountain playground or a beautiful lake - the main thing is, everyone knows what the destination will be and that destination is appealing to children. Perhaps you could even "sell" your hike as a kind of treasure hunt or discovery tour... And here's one more tip about choosing your route: Wide forest lanes tend to become monotonous quickly, whereas trails and pathways with exposed roots and other distractions promise an even better experience for everyone involved, big and small. You can also let your child take the lead from time to time, since being the first to find the trail markings is a great motivator and confidence-builder for youngsters!
Breaks make everyone stronger, hangry hiking is no fun
Fresh air works up an appetite, so plan in plenty of breaks. Often as not, breaks are important to kids, not so much because they are hungry, but rather, because they add welcome variety. That said, children love delicious, healthy snacks. Along the hiking paths, you will find lots of attractive picnic spots - on a tree trunk, a big rock, next to a stream where you can stick your toes in the water, or simply in the middle of a green meadow.
Open your eyes, find the treasures!
"Mom, look at how gigantic that anthill is over there!" With a few pointers from mom and dad, children explore nature with their senses attentive to everything, and time simply flies by. Who will find the biggest cobweb, who will spot the most beautiful snail shells, see that funny face on that tree trunk over there? And who can make the loudest cracking sound by stepping on one of those pinecones in their hiking boots? Hikes in summer and autumn are especially "tasty": with plump blueberries making their way from hand to mouth as if by magic. And with the chanterelles you collect, together you will be able to conjure up the world's tastiest mushroom goulash once you get back to your holiday home.
Tip: Gigantic anthills can be found, for example, in Rauris Virgin Forest in the National Park Holiday Region, next to inky-black moorland ponds and centuries-old pine trees that provide a home to lots of creepy-crawlies.
Nature: playful learning as you hike
The coolest classroom on the planet is nature itself. How do you figure out how old a tree is, what animal left these tracks on the ground? Which bird is hammering on the tree over there and what does the forest floor feel like on your bare feet? Our smaller researchers and explorers would be well advised to stick a magnifying box in their rucksack for an up-close view of all those little creatures and interesting plants. Aside from developing greater awareness and appreciation for everything in nature, hiking also improves children's physical coordination (scrambling over exposed roots etc.) whilst promoting their physical as well as psychological development.
Theme hiking paths in Austria and Bavaria: of spirits and dinosaurs
Fairytale paths in Schladming, the Bee Path in Lungau, water paths in Murtal, nature trails and the Slide Path in Hohe Tauern National Park, the Pine Path in Pitztal, the "Bärenbachl" on the Bergeralm and so much more... The family theme paths in Austria and Bavaria offer lots of memorable hiking experiences and colorful variety for children.
Ghosts, of course, are always in high demand with the youngsters - which makes a detour to Ghost Mountain in St. Johann / Alpendorf (30 km from Tauernresidence Radstadt) a hot commodity indeed. First by gondola, then in the Ghost Train (pulled by a tractor), you will make your way up the mountain to Ghost Castle, water games and around 40 other play stations, big and small. Absolutely fantastic!
Are you familiar with the spinosaurus, T-rex and brachiosaurus? In that case, you probably have children in kindergarten - or preschool, which means, a visit to Triassic Parc on the Waidringer Steinplatte in Tirol will be a "must". Ca. 40 km from Chalet 149 Westendorf, industrious hikers will learn lots of fascinating facts about those primordial giants, dig for fossils on Triassic Beach, as well as climb and balance in the low-ropes park.
Hiking holidays with children at a holiday home or apartment
In the countryside surrounding our more than 30 ALPS RESORTS in Austria and Bavaria, countless hiking paths are just waiting to be explored by your family. Our local employees know precisely which routes are suitable for families with children, which hikes begin right outside your chalet or holiday apartment, and where boredom is guaranteed never to be a factor. So, be sure to stop by and ask!
Photo materials© Title photo: Salzburger Land Tourismus; Resting in the Forest, Kaiserschmarrn at the Hut and Children by a Forest Pond: Salzburger Land Tourismus; Family on an Alpine Meadow, Tadpoles, and Family hiking in the Forest: Hohe Tauern National Park Holiday Region (Innerhofer)